15 Simple Ways to Burn Calories Without the Gym


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Stop! Before you sign up for that gym membership, check out these free ways to build muscle and burn fat.

It’s a new year, and many of us have made resolutions to improve our lives. For some, that means reading more books or achieving the perfect work-life balance.

For many others, resolutions are all about fitness. We want to lose weight, exercise more and become healthier.

Signing up for a gym membership may seem like the perfect way to meet those goals. But before you succumb to high-pressure sales tactics by impressively toned sales reps, learn about these 15 wallet-friendly ways to get in shape and burn off unwanted pounds.

1. Increase your NEAT-ness

Hands down, the easiest way to burn more calories per minute is to up your NEAT level. What’s that, you say? Well, it’s quite simply your nonexercise activity thermogenesis.

And if that isn’t simple enough, it’s the energy you use when you aren’t sleeping, eating or exercising. It’s the calories you burn by twiddling your thumbs, tapping your feet or waiting in line at the DMV.

The term was coined by Dr. James Levine, who discovered that individuals with manual or agrarian jobs have higher levels of NEAT. In other words, the more active we are, the more our metabolic rate increases and the more calories we burn even when we’re not exercising.

Unfortunately, Levine also learned that as we get wealthier and more industrialized, our NEAT decreases.

Many of the following suggestions are intended to help increase your NEAT. Beyond those, the key is to stand more, sit less and move as much as possible.

2. Hit the pavement

With its high-tech treadmills, elliptical machines and stair climbers, the gym may seem like a perfect place to get a workout 365 days a year. However, you can get almost the exact same workout for free, right outside your door.

Don’t let the cold air and snow deter you. Strap on boots, bundle up and hit the sidewalk or the trails for a walk that will wake you up. It may seem less than ideal, but as someone who tries to walk regularly outside in the winter, I can tell you that you warm up quickly as you move.

3. Get in touch with your inner Jane Fonda

Maybe no amount of cajoling is going to get you outside to walk or run in the cold. That’s OK — thanks to the endless supply of workout videos available through your library or online, you can exercise indoors for free, too.

4. Put your kid’s gaming system to good use

If videos aren’t your thing, how about video games? Don’t let your kids have all the gaming fun!

Personally, I’ve had great success with EA Sports Active 2. I found it amazing how effective these workouts were when it came to helping me lose weight and build strength. I set my alarm for 30 minutes earlier so I could be done before the kids needed to be up for school.

Of course, Zumba, yoga and dozens of other fitness titles are available for all the major gaming systems. Check your library and see if these games are available for free.

5. Park in the back 40

Another simple, easy and free way to burn calories is to park in the most distant spots available in the lot. Depending on the size of the lot, you might add a couple of minutes to your trip to the store. But is that extra time really going to break you? And as long as the store provides carts, it probably won’t kill you to also push purchases back to the car.

6. Stand as much as possible

This goes back to the NEAT levels we discussed in the first point. You burn more calories standing than sitting. According to the BBC, you burn about 50 more calories per hour, to be exact.

You won’t start dropping pounds like mad just from standing, but those 50 calories can add up over time.

To get on your feet more often, try to find a place to set up your computer so you can stand and type. I have a kitchen counter that is the perfect height. As a bonus, for some reason I find I’m remarkably more productive when I stand.

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